Sustainable Science Experiment | Landfill Emissions

I’m a big fan of composting, and my kids know it’s an important part of our family habits. But do you know why it’s so important? Do your kids know why composting matters? Try this experiment to see why we should compost our food scraps so they don’t contribute to climate change.

four glass bottles with balloons on top of them sitting on a counter, next to white sheets of paper and 4 markers for completing the activity described in this post

Teaching our kids to practice sustainable living habits is really important, and it can be really fun. Also, as our kids get older, it’s helpful to explore with them why sustainability and eco-friendly family habits matter. 

We can teach our kids about the science of sustainability and the reasons it’s so important through a variety of projects, books, and other forums and channels. One of my favorite ways to teach my boys about eco-friendly principles is through mini at-home science projects.

four balloons on a counter next to a banana and a pile of blackberries

A couple of weeks ago, I teamed up with one of my very favorite Instagram and YouTube teachers, Jess of Thoughtfully Sustainable, to share three sustainability science experiments you can do with kids at home over on Kathryn Kellogg’s blog, Going Zero Waste. 

We talked about the food waste audit my family and I did a few months ago. We encouraged families to try growing food from food scraps. 

We also introduced this landfill decomposition experiment, my favorite experiment of the three. This experiment shows young scientists how food scraps decomposing in an environment without oxygen, like a landfill, create gas. This is in comparison to food scraps that decompose with oxygen in a healthy composting environment and instead release oxygen, water, and a bit of carbon dioxide.

four glass bottles filled with water and sealed with balloons on top
four glass bottles with balloons on top of them sitting on a counter, next to white sheets of paper
glass bottle with balloon on top filled with blueberries that are decomposing

In a landfill, anaerobic decomposition (or decomposition without oxygen) releases methane gas which, according to the Environmental Protection Agency,  is approximately 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide with respect to trapping heat in our atmosphere and contributing to global warming. 

In other words, this experiment shows our young environmentalists that properly disposing of food scraps in a compost bin instead of a trash bin, where food scraps may end up in a landfill, can significantly reduce each person’s individual impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Want To Perform This Landfill Experiment?

Head over the Honestly Modern to find all the details about how to perform this landfill emissions experiment.

four glass jars sitting on a windowsill with balloons on top to seal them. bottles are filled with water and decomposing food scraps. text overlay says Landfill emissions experiment
hand holding a plastic bottle filled with water and sealed with a balloon that is blown up from gas produced by decomposing banana inside the bottle with text overlay that says Sustainability Science Landfill Experiment

About The Author

Jen Panaro

Jen Panaro, a co-founder of Raising Global Kidizens, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. She’s also a serial library book borrower and a messy gardener.

As a mom to two boys, she is passionate about helping families be more responsible stewards to their communities and the planet. She also owns Honestly Modern, an online space focused on eco-friendly living for modern families.

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